NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command (MSC) ship USNS Red Cloud (T-AKR 313) is carrying generators and a crane to the U.S. Gulf Coast region to support Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.
Donated by the Department of Defense, the $1.9 million worth of equipment was loaded aboard the ship at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Sept. 9-10. The equipment will be offloaded in southern Texas, where it will be transported by ground to hard-hit areas of Louisiana and Alabama.
Two large diesel generators will be used to power hospitals in Louisiana, while two others will power hospitals in Alabama. Five other smaller generators will be turned over to states to use at their discretion.
The 30-ton crane will be donated to the state of Alabama.
According to John Lantier of the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) the large diesel generators, some weighing more than 82,000 lbs., are normally used to provide shore side power to ships at the port of Naval Station Rota. They were scheduled to be decommissioned due to their age and because they are no longer needed to support the mission at the port. However, the generators and crane were still in good working order.
DRMS is responsible for disposing of excess or outdated equipment and supplies for the Department of Defense. Before scrapping, however, property is offered for reutilization within DoD, transferred to other government agencies, or donated to state and local governments.
Robert Foster, MSC Europe’s representative at Naval Station, Rota, Spain, was tasked with finding a dry cargo vessel capable of carrying the heavy equipment back to the gulf states.
Foster first contacted MSC officials in Naples, Italy, and then the command’s headquarters in Washington. “We saw USNS Red Cloud was scheduled to transit the Strait of Gibraltar and saw the opportunity to have her make a brief stop and pick up this equipment,” said Foster.
The ship had just delivered U.S. Army cargo to Egypt in support of multinational exercise Bright Star 2005.
“This humanitarian equipment is probably the smallest cargo on USNS Red Cloud - which has over 360,000 square feet of cargo space - but probably the most important,” said Foster.
MSC is contributing significant assets to the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts, including deployment of the 250-bed hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20). In addition, MSC chartered four cruise ships for FEMA to provide temporary shelter for relief workers and those made homeless by the disaster.
Other MSC ships, such as HSV Swift (HSV 2), USNS Bellatrix (T-AKR 288), USNS Altair (T-AKR 291), USNS Pillilau (T-AKR 304), USNS Bob Hope (T-AKR 300), and USNS Algol (T-AKR 287), are also in the Gulf of Mexico to provide support.
Fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8) is at sea in the Gulf of Mexico, acting as a FEMA support ship and providing logistic services to other U.S. naval ships assisting in relief efforts. Fleet replenishment oiler USNS Patuxent (T-AO 201) relieved Arctic Sept. 11.
“This equipment is needed urgently, and our MSC staff members acted quickly to make this move possible,” said Capt. David Wright, commander of MSC Europe, based in Naples, Italy.
Red Cloud is one of MSC’s nineteen Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off ships and is part of 36 ships in the U.S. military's prepositioning program. The ship is 950 feet in length, displaces more than 62,640 tons, and is operated by a crew of 30 merchant mariners under contract to MSC.
“Thanks to all those who did not say, 'it can’t be done,' rather, 'let’s get it done,'” Foster said of the quick turnaround to get the vital equipment where it is badly needed. “Red Cloud’s master, Capt. Chris Begley, and his entire crew were instrumental in making the load of this equipment happen quickly.”
For the latest Navy news on Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/hurricane/.